Traveling is something that I hold very dear to my heart. I think that it’s something that’s meant to be done by everyone on this earth. Unfortunately, not everyone has the ability to travel as much as they would like, which is why I feel so incredibly grateful to have been able to travel as much as I have. I owe all of my experiences to my family, who willingly passed on the travel bug to me. My parents have always made it a priority to take advantage of any situation where they can travel or offer my sister and I the chance to travel. I couldn’t thank them enough for all of these opportunities I’ve been given. By far, my most memorable traveling experience is (and most likely will always be) the three-week camping trip that I took across the United States as a rising junior in high school. It was called Teens Camping Tour of the West, TCTW for short. My sister had gone on this trip a couple of years before I had, and she gave me more than enough reasons to do it myself when my parents and I picked her up from her 3-week adventure. From hearing my sister’s stories, I thought I was going into this trip with a pretty good idea of what I’d encounter. However, after my first night under the stars, surrounded by my newly acquainted travel-mates, I felt oblivious to what lied ahead of me. Not only would I be spending the next twenty-two nights sleeping under the stars in a sleeping bag, but I would also be doing it in a different state every single night. Driving through some of the most raw and beautiful parts of my country gave me so much appreciation for Mother Nature and the beauty that we tend to take for granted every day. Waking up to an unbelievable sunrise on the rim of the Grand Canyon, taking the 12-mile hike down and back up the natural wonder, and then watching the sun fall back down below the canyon before a restful sleep was one of my favorite memories from the trip. Some of my other favorite experiences include the breathtaking drive through the Rockies to the music of John Denver, sleeping alongside the bears of Yellowstone National Park, rafting down the Snake River in Wyoming, roaming the streets of Haight-Ashbury in San Fran, and even waking up in Vegas (literally). Some of these experiences may sound pretty achievable for many people; however, what really made my time so impactful was the group of people who shared these memories with me. I mean…being squeezed together in a Scooby-doo style van for hours upon hours every day for three weeks certainly provided the means to cultivate friendships in a less-than-conventional way. The spiritual connection that I made with those who journeyed with me is something that will last forever in my mind, and even if I go years without seeing any of them, I’m sure that my relationship with them will feel just as close as it did when parting from our adventure together 5 years ago.
This traveling experience will always have an impact on my life and I urge everyone to take some time in their lives to explore their own country and see for themselves how beautiful the world is. It truly heals the soul and can make the negative things in life feel much smaller and unimportant for some time. I’ve posted some photos I took on my trip below to hopefully give you inspiration for your next vacation destination! Peace, love, and travel everyone.
The beginning of my adventure…
Van life: packed like sardines
First major stop: The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO
First glimpse of the mountains
Stopping at Colorado’s Air Force Academy to mack on the students- I guess I couldn’t resist!
Followed by an awesome day in The Garden of the Gods…
Early morning hike across The Great Sand Dunes in Colorado
Arrival into New Mexico, where I got the chance to stand in 4 states at once!
Made it to the Grand Canyon…
A very early start to a long day of hiking the canyon!
Finished the 6 mile hike down to the farthest point of the canyon and prepared for the next 6 miles back up!
Some cuties we spotted on our hike!
Arrived in California to spend the day being kids in Disneyland!
Sunny day in Santa Monica:
Exploring the crazy streets of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco!
Soaking up the beauty of Yosemite!!
Posing around the Giant Redwoods in Big Basin, California
The beautiful Grand Tetons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Floating down the Snake River in Wyoming
Having fun dressing up for a real rodeo in Cody, Wyoming
Bundling up on a chilly night in Yellowstone- sleeping with the bears!